Chapter 21: Choose the Flute or Perish
It is not that life is without its hurts and pains; it cannot be. But if a person brings his focus only to the hurt and pain and goes on accumulating them, he will soon cease to meet with any happy moments in life. It is not that there is no happiness in life; it has its fair share of happiness too. And if someone trains his attention on happiness alone and goes on gathering it, he will eventually cease to come across painful moments in life.
Life consists of both pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. And it depends on us what we choose to see and take. My own understanding is that if someone sees rightly and loves roseflowers, then soon the thorns on the rosebush will disappear from his sight. Eyes attuned to the beauty and fragrance of the flower don’t take notice of the thorns. Not that the thorns disappear from the bush; they become part and parcel of the grandeur of the roses, and one sees them as something protecting the roses. They are really to protect the flowers, not to hurt anyone.
But if someone sees only thorns he will miss the flowers. He will say, “How can there be any flowers in the midst of so many piercing thorns and thistles?” He cannot even think of flowers where thorns abound. For him thorns become the truth and flowers disappear like dreams. But for a lover of flowers, thorns become illusory and flowers the truth.
It depends on man, what he chooses; he is free to choose. There is a saying of Sartre’s which is strange but close to truth. He says, “Man is condemned to be free.” It seems freedom is an imposition on us, inflicted on us. It seems we can choose every thing except freedom - because we are free to choose or not to choose it. Never had anyone described freedom as something inflicted on man.
Man is free, and this freedom affirms his being God. But he can choose anything - even not being God. Similarly, he is free to choose pain and misery. Life will be pure suffering for one who makes suffering his choice. We become that which we choose to become. In fact, we see what we want to see; we find what we want to find; we receive what we ask for. So if you seek suffering you are going to have it, without fail.
The irony is that if someone opts for suffering he does not suffer alone, he makes many others suffer with him. And this is where immorality comes into being. Unhappiness is a contagious disease: a single unhappy person can be the cause of the unhappiness of thousands. It is impossible that an unhappy man can make another happy. How can he give happiness to another when he refuses to take it for himself. Remember, we can share with others only that which we have, not what we don’t have.
One who has turned his life into a bundle of hurts and wounds is going to be the cause of much suffering in the lives of many people around him. Since suffering has become his life’s breath, wherever he goes he will carry the germs of suffering with him. So an unhappy man does not suffer alone, he shares his sorrow with everybody he comes in contact with. Walking or sitting, speaking or silent, active or inactive, he emits and transmits the vibes of unhappiness like nuclear fallout all around him. An unhappy person really adds to the unhappiness of the whole world.